Planning for an upcoming trip is perhaps the most exciting part of a holiday. Finalising the destination, putting together the itinerary and finding some of the best places to stay are indeed an integral part of the whole planning. However, finding the cheapest flight tickets on the best routes is more crucial. If done right, flight tickets can help manage the budget better. And, to help you with this, here are some expert tips on how to book cheap flights at a time, when travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being lifted across the globe. By Trinetra Paul
As this has resulted in a surge in tourism and travel as well as fluctuating flight fares, you need to be alert to book the best ones at the right time. This might sound quite daunting, but you can easily lay your hands on some of the cheapest flights with these trade secrets.
Follow these expert tips to book cheap flights for your next trip
Be the early bird
One of the easiest ways to get the best deals and cheap flights is to book at least three months in advance. Fares may rise close to departure dates and at times, they can also change multiple times a day.
For some particular routes and popular tourist destinations, the difference can be nearly 50 percent between the highest and lowest fares. Hence, if you can plan and book well ahead, you are likely to get cheap flight fares.
According to a report by Channel News Asia, Sarah Wan, Singapore general manager of online travel booking platform Klook, said, “As a general rule of thumb, planning around three to six months in advance would be a safe bet. This will allow travellers to secure the best deals and plan ahead.”
Ditch rush hours and peak seasons
Most people wait for the holiday season to go on a trip. School vacations, national and state holidays and certain festivals may be the best time to travel, but they are the most expensive ones too.
However, if you can ditch the peak holiday seasons and choose the right month (off-season), chances are that you may find some of the cheapest flight deals and save a lot. Although this is debatable, many experts believe that if you can book your flight tickets during the week instead of weekends, the fares come at reduced rates.
Compare all options
Booking a cheap flight needs patience and detailed research. Start by searching flights and routes on flight comparison websites and travel aggregators. Websites including Kayak, Google flights, Skyscanner, Goibibo and Cleartrip provide all available flight options to your desired destination. You can compare fares and timings and choose the most suitable one.
One hack that might come in handy is that Google Flights and Kayak have a price predicting feature, showing if the fares will plummet, fall or remain steady.
At times, the cheapest fares can be found on the airline’s official website. Flight aggregators levy a service charge, raising the overall expense. Sometimes, the airline gives special benefits and exclusive discounts on their websites, too. However, these are not always guaranteed.
Look for alternative ways
Keep all your options open while selecting the route to your destination. Opting for nearby alternative airports and then taking a domestic flight can help save a lot. Sarah Wan also supports this and suggests taking a train from a nearby city to the main destination to keep the pocket light.
The same goes for dates as well. If it is flexible, then adjusting the date and time can also get you a cheap flight. It is always advised to compare and contrast before making the final payment.
Keep track of promotions and loyalty programmes
One of the most convenient ways to ensure cheap flight tickets is to be abreast of the promotions and discounts offered by various airlines. Try booking your flight tickets using the best-suited offers and unlock maximum benefits.
Similarly, taking advantage of loyalty programmes offered by airlines and travel portals can be of great help. For instance, Expedia offers loyalty programmes and exclusive members-only discounts and benefits on flight tickets. Joining a Frequent Flyers club and signing up for an airline membership opens doors to several advantages, and helps in getting flight tickets at slashed prices.
Use travel points or try UPI payment
Credit cards are an important way to get cheap flights. If your card is affiliated with a particular airline, then you can collect travel points on the go. After accumulating a substantial amount, these points become extremely helpful in flying at reduced fares. Booking portals also list several cards and payment options, which aid in booking cheap flights. Some cards offer lounge benefits that you can use to relax during long layovers.
Similarly, unified payments interface (UPI) options play a major role in getting discounts. Use portals such as Paytm (India), BPAY and POLi system (Australia) to get additional discounts and benefits.
Student and age benefits
If you are a student or of a certain age (below or above), you might be eligible for special concessions. Browse through respective booking portals and airline websites and carry the necessary IDs to enjoy budget-friendly travel.
Senior citizens are also eligible for such concessions. Keep an eye for the best deals and make sure that elderly passengers carry all relevant documents and follow the guidelines for hassle-free travelling.
Head out on the right day
Choosing the right day and time to travel makes a significant difference in the airfare.
The 2022 travel booking guide, for which Expedia teamed up with the Airlines Reporting Corporation, suggests that Thursday is the best day to start your travel. Channel News Asia also mentions that by doing so, one may save nearly 25 percent. Travelling between Tuesday and Thursday can be the cheapest, whereas heading out on the weekend between Friday and Saturday can be quite expensive.
Long layovers and breaks
While starting a trip, the last thing one wants is an unnecessarily long layover before reaching the destination. But if you are not in a hurry and can hold on, consider opting for flights with longer layovers as they offer cheap tickets.
Most top international long-haul flights have a stopover in major cities. For example, Turkish Airlines generally has a stopover in Istanbul, Air France in Paris and KLM in Amsterdam. These carriers are also given the duty to promote tourism. This is where you can convert a long layover into a mini holiday.
Wondering how to find this option? Just take a standard return flight search and convert it into a multi-city search. This does not increase the overall flight cost and just adds an extra destination to your holiday.